When people think about getting sober, one of their biggest fears is: Can I ever have fun again? Most people think sobriety is boring. Well, the newly-sober person needs to adjust his or her perspective. Yes, being sober won’t involve death-defying police chases or risky actions that can really hurt them or those around them. The definition of fun changes: The longer people stay sober, the deeper and more enriching their joys become!
As we get sober, we often have these “Aha!” moments in regard to this important characteristic. Here is mine: When I was a few months sober and living in a halfway house, one of the program counselors was getting married. This was in Thibodaux, Louisiana, and the counselor and those of us in the program were sober while his bride and most of the locals were drinking. My peers and I were sharing a video camera to film the reception. When it was my turn, I felt comfortable behind the camera and didn’t want to let anyone else use it. This was because I was nervous being in a social setting and not drinking. Later, during the reception, all the guys in the program were asked to go up and sing with the band. We sang the song “Proud Mary” and it was not very good, but I realized the crowd didn’t care and had a blast! This was an eye-opening experience for me. We repeated this at a few other sober weddings in the future, and I truly learned the lesson of letting go of my fears and defenses – that it is okay to be silly and vulnerable, to have fun. This was a major breakthrough in achieving long-term sobriety.
If someone gets sober and doesn’t learn to relax and have fun, their chances of long-term sobriety are very limited. We must insist on learning to have fun. It can be a matter of life or death for some. I think this is a very critical component of recovery, along with developing a deep spiritual connection, and working the Twelve Steps
Why are addicts and alcoholics afraid to let go and have fun? We had to ingest serious amounts of drugs or alcohol to let go of our fears and insecurities. The more we used, the more fear we would have before getting high to relax. It’s a self-fulfilling prophecy that the need only gets worse the longer one uses. The fear of being vulnerable that newcomers experience in the early stages of sobriety is so intense that some can’t get past it. Working the Twelve Steps helps to reduce the fear by creating a fellowship with others in recovery, which can also help teach what the “new fun” looks like. The beauty of recovery is that, if you reach out enough, you will find others who have the same interests as you, and often even the same sense of humor. But first it takes reaching out.